Saturday, October 29, 2011

Love your neighbor.

It seems that I have been going through some sort of blogging slump lately. Not too many pictures or meaningful posts. The same goes with certain other social media venues that I employ (except Twitter, which I have no problem using on a minutely basis). Facebook is becoming more and more like email to me. Checking it only to see if there are any notifications, or if I need to get ahold of anyone (and skimming through pictures of people's kids...and quickly skimming through all the political unrest, etc). Little blurbs about what is going on in my life, but nothing too thoughtful. I have really yet to see the use for google+, as I forget to check it, and don't really know what service it provides that I can't get elsewhere. Ho hum. Doo dedoo.

Anyway, since I have no problems coming up with things to say on Twitter, I went there to see if I could find something to blog about. Last Sunday, I posted this tweet:
Thinking about what it really means to "love our neighbor." Considering Galatians 5:13-15, 6:1-10 (esp 2), Romans 13:8-9, &; Luke 10:25-37.
Sounds like the perfect thing to blog about, thought I don't have too many solutions to offer. Just thoughts and some Scriptures.
I have been failing at taking pictures lately, though have enjoyed the occasional impromptu stovetop photo shoot to try to illustrate something. These two are neighbors. And saltshakers. If you think the girl is salt, you would be mistaken.

There's probably little disagreement among Christians that we need to love our neighbor as ourselves, it is in the "how" we love our neighbor, and the "who" is our neighbor question that we can't seem to figure out/agree on. 

Jesus, when He was asked the question, "And who is my neighbor?," launches into the familiar story of the good Samaritan. Now, there is a lot that could be said about this particular story, of the history of why the Samaritans weren't liked by the Jewish people, or why the priest and temple assistant didn't even want their shadow to touch the man who was beaten and robbed, but let's look at the answer of who the neighbor is.  The neighbor is the one who showed mercy on the person who needed it. Jesus says that this is what we are to do in order to be a good neighbor. So, who needs mercy? Probs everyone at some point, right?  Even ourselves!

Ok. I have lots of thoughts that I've typed and then deleted. They are merely speculative, and not sure if they are helpful.  I guess a lot of what I have been thinking about lately has to do with two things (that could have to do with each other, but not necessarily).
1. How do we care for the poor, both among us, and in the world. If we just give them the resources we think they need, are we really helping? What can we do on a relational level with people before we just give them yesterday's t-shirts? If we go downtown and start up 10 businesses, will it really help, or will it just force the poor to live somewhere else? If we know the people, and what businesses they would shop/work at, it would be better. But that takes a lot of time, and we are not creatures that are known for their patience. If we are doing relational ministry, there are a lot less statistics that we can give to people who want to give us money to help.  What do we base our "success" on?
2. How do we care for and show love to people who are difficult to love/care for? It is easier to love our neighbor who is just like we are, for better or for worse. How can we show love for those who drive us crazy, or who have a different worldview, or whose sins are seemingly different from our own? Is it ok if one person's style of loving his/her neighbor is different from our own?

Lots to consider. There is a lot, a la-hot, of Scripture that is all about loving our neighbor. The last 6 of the Ten Commandments are all about loving our neighbor. Both old and new testament talk about loving our neighbor. There must be something we can glean from this and apply to today. Here is the tip of the iceberg:

In Deuteronomy, the people are told to leave some of their hard work behind during the harvest time, so that the poor can come and take what they need afterward.

In Leviticus, the idea of leaving part of your harvest behind and following the neighborly part of the Ten Commandments is discussed (This is not meant to discredit the first four commandments. Loving God and loving your neighbor tend to go hand in hand).

Galatians 5:13-26 points to the entire law being summed up in, "love your neighbor as yourself" and gives examples of how to live in the Spirit.

Galatians 6:1-10 also talks about harvesting, but harvesting good. I especially like verses 2-3, "Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." How can we practically share each other's burdens? This could start in the home/family, and reach out to the community, and to the world. Sharing burdens implies that both parties take on each other's burdens. It isn't just one important person with seemingly no burdens helping out the poor person they don't know. No one has the upper hand when burdens are being shared. There are probably implications that joys are being shared as well in this scenario.

Romans 13:8-9. Sorry Mr. Ramsey, but I don't think these verses are so much about being a good steward with your money as they are about loving your neighbor.

Hebrews 13:15-16 says that sharing with those in need and doing good are ways that we can give a pleasing and continual sacrifice of praise to God.

Ok. Lots to think about. What do you think it means to love your neighbor? How does that look? What verses help you to think of this?

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